Fancy Bridge73A to Magazine Bridge 55.
Today would be the day, had I avoided getting Mick’s cold?
Unfortunately I woke with the start of a sore throat, so almost certainly not. By the end of the day I was starting on the drugs too.
Last night we’d considered having a walk around Shugborough, but then we worked out how many hours cruising we’d need to do to reach our next destination in time. Not being good at getting up and going early (unless we have to), the fact that we need to be doing around four and a half hours a day meant we’d not be hanging around today especially as we were in need of a proper shop.
On our way late morning we passed a few boats and timed our arrival at Colwich Lock very well as a boat had just come up leaving the next awaiting boat’s crew to help us down. I took advantage on them being on the towpath side and headed straight to the bottom gates. Just here, in the lock cottage garden, is a rather lovely Black Elder plant. In the past it has given off such a wonderful scent I made a bee line for it. As with the more common Elderflower they are only just starting to come into bloom. Only a couple of heads were in flower today and the lack of sunshine meant it wasn’t producing it’s aroma. Next week it will most probably be at its best.
As ever below the lock there was a queue. We pootled onwards. Swans were taking advantage of their piece of canal bank and through Taft Bridge Dexta was high and dry.
NB Dexta used to be moored on the cut, red diesel would be pumped from the farm behind, to a tank on board to be sold to passing boaters. A favourite for many a boater, but we’d heard that the boat was out of the water. No signs anywhere about diesel. Either the boat is out for maintenance or they have stopped selling to boaters. Glad we’d known this and filled up in Stone.
Pootling onwards over Brindley Bank Aqueduct we now cruised past numerous moored boats. We were wanting to stop at Tescos to do a big shop, as we got closer we wondered if there’d be a suitable mooring.
A boat was just pulling out from the 7 day moorings, not wanting to risk not finding anywhere through the bridge we pulled in knowing from past experience we wouldn’t get into the side. A hire boat was just about to push off and offered us their space, they’d got into the side. It took forever for the chap at the back to untie his rope, a tsunami would have a job shifting them from that mooring ring. We pulled back and managed to get one end of the boat close enough.
A relatively big shop to keep us going for the next week or so and we were on our way again. Of course there was loads of space through the bridge! As we passed Rugeley Winding Hole, we were reminded that this is where we turned around in October 2017, our plans having changed. We’d been heading towards Derby for the court case and had received news that it would be postponed until the following year, so had turned round and headed north for Christmas. Today we continued southwards, you could say for Christmas.
With a couple more hours of cruising planned we pootled on. Through Armitage Tunnel, no body was coming so I was able to wave Mick into the narrow channel when I’d only got half way through. Would there be space above Wood End Lock to moor? We didn’t want to risk everywhere being full so tried a few places on the way.
Lovely places, all suitable for Tilly, just too shallow for Oleanna. After Bridge 55 we pulled in as far away from the road as possible and let Tilly out. She was given a couple of hours but brought back a friend after three and a half!
This evening I had a go at Toad in the hole with a third of my buckwheat pancake mix. I added an egg and a touch of baking powder hoping that would help lift the heavier flour. It was tasty especially as I’d added some rosemary and thyme to the mix, but it certainly hadn’t reached for the sky. A good blob of ketchup on the side made it even tastier. I won’t be rushing to make it again. One third left to go!
1 lock, 10.93 miles, 1 new Charity Wharf, 2 many shallow moorings, 1 boat too deep, 7 half hitches, 3 sheep shanks, 2 bowlines, 1 reef knot, 2 grannies just in case, 27 days, 4 boxes wine, 1 sore throat, 20 minutes behind schedule, 1 pudding with 6 sausages, 1 very lively friend.